Wednesday, June 23, 2021

    How Nigeria can connect women entrepreneurs to global export market

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    The International Trade Centre (ITC) is working with the Nigerian Exports Promotion Council (NEPC) to empower more women entrepreneurs in the exports market, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

    Textiles and other products from Nigeria and other African countries are finding their way into the global market.

    One of those recording success in the global space is a Ghanaian-Nigerian fashion designer, Titi Ademola, who founded Kiki Clothing, a Ghana children’s and women’s clothes and footwear brand.

    Ademola’s ideas come mainly from her Ghanaian/Nigerian heritage. Exhibiting collections in Accra, Lagos, Mauritius, Johannesburg, as well as London and Rome has brought brand recognition and inspiring opportunities to the Kiki label.

    Besides, there are stories of Nigerians and groups bringing the nation glory with the assistance of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), an agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations (UN). It assists small and medium scale enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable development within the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    One of the groups is the Ifedawapo Sheabutter Cooperative, based in Saki, Oyo State sold about 200 metric tonnes of its product to major cosmetics companies in Nigeria and the United States. The company secured orders for a further 500 metric tonnes, after implementing a quality improvement programme through the NEPC with ITC’s assistance.

    The Ifedawapo Sheabutter Cooperative’s sales were enabled by its relationship with Shea Origin Nigeria Limited, as part of its agreement under the project. The material is extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree, to make skin moisturisers and hair-care products. It is also used in confectionery, mainly as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolates.

    Under the project, the lead funder, Standards and Trade Development Facility, financed the purchase of modern equipment for extracting butter from shea nuts. It also provided support for analysis and capacity-building on improving product quality and safety.

    The community in Saki gave access to land, the local government provided some infrastructure, and NEPC as the implementing agency for the project contributed the shelter for processing equipment. ITC backed NEPC with expertise in safety and quality improvement as well as project management.

    NEPC realised that the local cooperative, which owned the facility lacked the capital, technical experience and know-how to sustain it.

    To fill this gap, it brought in domestic investors from the shea butter sector with proven track records of working with rural producers. Producers were educated in safety management processes to minimise fungus and aflatoxin levels, and in the importance of complying with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

    With ITC’s support for Nigeria chapter of She Trades in the Commonwealth, analysts expect to see growth in the number of women entrepreneurs exporting over the next few years.

    A dedicated project of ITC’s global She Trades initiative, the She Trades in the Commonwealth Nigeria project aims to drive increased trade, productivity and competitiveness for women entrepreneurs and women-owned companies to ensure that they play an active role in international trade.

    Through intensive training and mentoring, the goal is to strengthen the 3,000 women-owned businesses to generate sales worth £28 million ($38million) by 2020.

    Launched in April and funded by UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), She Trades in the Commonwealth was endorsed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May during the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in London.

    She Trades in the Commonwealth – Nigeria will address challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, including access to and control over land, cumbersome business and financial institutional processes amongst other entrepreneurial challenges.

    “She Trades in the Commonwealth will ensure that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria receive support tailored to their specific needs, allowing them to propel their market representation and secure greater access to global trade,” said Senior Programme Officer at ITC’s Women and Trade Programme, Nicholas Schlaepfer.

    The She Trades in the Commonwealth project will provide governments with better tools and information to implement gender-responsive policies and share best practices.

    Over a two-year period, ITC will initially work to increase the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in the agriculture, apparel and services sectors in four Commonwealth focus countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

    Meanwhile, ITC and GroFin have called on women entrepreneurs to join She Trades Invest for a chance to receive training and mentoring on access to finance, and potentially investment for their business. Launched last December as part of ITC’s global She Trades initiative, She Trades Invest aims to improve access to finance for women entrepreneurs by providing training and connecting them to investment.

    SheTrades Invest will strengthen the financial and managerial capacity of women entrepreneurs, improve their investment readiness, and connect them to impact investors and financiers.

    As part of this strategic alliance with ITC, GroFin, a development finance firm, will deploy risk-impact capital into vetted and eligible small and growing businesses to create economic growth and jobs for women.

    The initial phase targets businesses in 14 countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Oman, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The Nation

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